Is This The End of Commercials?

DISH presents The Hopper

DISH network is based here in Denver, and their CEO, Charlie Ergan, seems intent on ending commercial TV as we know it.

DISH claims a new DVR, called the Hopper, cuts out all commercials as you watch the programs you like on any device you own.

Obviously, the 4 big commercial TV networks are not pleased and have filed copyright lawsuits against DISH, so who knows how this will end? They won’t run his ads for it and CBS even vetoed subsidiary CNET from awarding the Hopper the top device prize at CES this year.

The thing is, I really don’t think most people mind watching a few commercials in order to see programs they love. Especially if the ads are about products that interest them.

What we all object to is the increase in the number and length of commercial breaks. TV execs, like Radio’s owners, are not satisfied with double-digit profit margins. There is a relentless drive for more and more revenue.

If this device is legal, it will be interesting to see how advertisers react.

And it may serve as a bit of a warning to us in Radio. Making 30% – 40% profit year after year for fifty years has spoiled us all.

Listeners tend to like commercial radio, but we have stretched their patience to the limit, which is why more and more often, when I visit an office and inquire about the “station” they’re playing, I hear “Pandora.”

As Charlie Ergan says: “As a company, you have two choices — you can fight change or you can embrace change. And I believe it’s less risky long-term to embrace change.”